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How is Flint Water Crisis Affecting Older Residents?

In the aftermath of the Flint water crisis, AARP Michigan is launching an effort to address the needs of the city's older residents. (atlbroker/morguefile)
In the aftermath of the Flint water crisis, AARP Michigan is launching an effort to address the needs of the city's older residents. (atlbroker/morguefile)
May 31, 2016

FLINT, Mich. - Much attention has been given to the impact of lead-tainted water on children living in the city of Flint, but advocates for older residents want to make sure folks of all ages are getting the help they need.

People age 50 and older make up an estimated one-third of Flint's population and Paula Cunningham, state director for AARP Michigan, says from nutrition to logistics, many in that age group have particular needs and challenges in coping with the crisis.

"Sometimes, getting out to get to the water is challenging because they are homebound," says Cunningham. "For those who have had filters delivered to their home, they don't really know how to replace the filter. For some, the communication has just been a bit of a challenge."

In order to best respond to those needs, Cunningham says AARP wants to hear directly from the city's older residents, and is hosting two special listening sessions this weekend in Flint.

In times of crisis, Cunningham notes that people who are the most vulnerable, the young as well as older and lower-income residents, are at greatest risk.

"Forty-one percent of the population of Flint actually lives in poverty. So a lot of times, just accessing some of the services that are available is a bit more challenging," she says. "And so, we want to make certain that their voices are heard and not forgotten."

Cunningham says the listening sessions are the starting point for getting a survey out to the city's older residents, and enlisting the help of local agencies from the Red Cross to the United Way and the Area Agency on Aging to implement whatever assistance is needed.

More information is on the AARP Michigan website.

Mona Shand/Judy Steffes, Public News Service - MI